Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding the Right Stuffed Puppy

When I first started blogging about the stuffed toy puppet to marionette conversion, I was in love with the big-eyed toys put out by Russ.  They no longer make them and have not for a long time.
So I've taken to haunting Goodwill looking for any toys I could use instead. Luckily there are hundreds to choose from at Goodwills all over the city.  Next to Teddy Bears, plushy dogs are the most common stuffed toy available.
But how to choose?
Here is a picture of my finds for the workshop I'm giving at the Mini-Festival this Sunday:
Workshop Dogs Front 

 Nice looking doggies and except for the brown one...pretty brightly colored. Notice that they are all Miniature dog size...not Teacup. You are looking for a 15" to 18" dog. Two of them are Build a Bear dogs...perfect size! Most of them have five bean bags, one in each foot and one in the butt. This is great because I won't need to weight them. Now...for the most important feature... See the side view: 
Workshop Dogs Side 

Notice that each of these dogs have full-sized straight-down back legs. Many dog toys are made with the dog sitting or relaxed on its side--those styles will short you in the fabric you need for your marionette to walk. Also, be wary of the human-style standing-up-on-back-legs kind...Snoopy is often done like that. This type is better suited to stringing as you would a human.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Canterbury Renaissance Faire

If you are planning to come to Salem OR to see me perform Punch and Judy this weekend, here are the show times:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Puppet Slam Mini Fest!

Have you heard about this?
Puppet Slam MiniFest

Live in the region?  You should come...we have crash space!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

G-RAIN-wood Faire

Well, we had wind, rain, temperatures over 80, small stinging insects and one injured actor, but it still was a great faire.
It rained hard right before my second show on Saturday.  I stood in my puppet stage with a huge golf umbrella over it, but by the time I got there with the umbrella, there was a lot of water already soaking everything.  I figured I'd have to cancel the second show.  The rain stopped about 5 minutes before I was supposed to perform but the trees were still shedding drops down on us and the benches for the audience were soaked.  But people showed up anyway and sat in them.  I grabbed Punch and Judy and put them up to sing "Rain rain go away" and suddenly the benches were full!
So we pulled the stage into position and with the golf umbrella still up, I did the show.  I added a lot of rain and wet jokes.  People seemed to love that.  Two of my puppets have feathers for hair...they looked more wet than the rest for sure, but no one seemed to mind.  After it all, the stage manager said that my show was the first back up and I had 56 people.  Some people ran across the green to come see it even.  I felt pretty good about the whole thing!
 Clay Martin was also there and I was glad to catch two of his shows.  He had a new toy theatre piece to try out and I enjoyed seeing all the new flat puppets.  He gave them all moving somethings...heads, mouths or eyes because he didn't show his own face as Toy Theatre performers usually do.
I'm looking forward to the next Ren Faire I'm doing in Salem on the second full week of July!

By the way, if you have just come to this blog from the card I gave you at Greenwood.  This is the best summary post for the Puppy Puppet:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Greenwood Faire this Weekend

I'll be performing Punch and Judy in Richland, WA this weekend!
I'll be at the Merchant's Stage performing at 11:30am and 1:30pm.

Come and see us (me and Mr. Punch I mean)!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Start Stringing your Puppy with the "Heart Strings"

You need a black fishing line for stringing your puppy. The clear plastic fishing line will work but it really does stand out a surprising amount and I have been told it stretches. I have not had many problems with that because my puppets are generally too light weight to matter. Most rag doll style puppets are very light weight. So is a stuffed animal with a few bean bags and lead egg weighs in it. You are also going to need a large needle. You can also see a stringing stand in this picture and that is a great tool for solo string efforts. If you don't have one, I have used split doors, shelves, slide out cutting boards and mean family members or friends. Thanks to all who have patiently held controls for me before!
 We will start with the shoulder string (1) and the posterior string (2) which are the main two support strings. They will carry the full weight of the puppet. They are the heart strings too...the only two strings that if cut, will kill the performance completely. The control must be held level and the strings set so that all four feet are just barely touching the ground.
I use this diagram to show where it's best to hold the controls for the person who will be using this puppy in performance:
 This assumes that the person who is in this diagram is full grown and plans to use this puppet on the floor and walking about in a room.  For a child, you might add a few inches for when they grown a bit more or if you are planning on performing on a bridge, you need to stand on the bridge to get the right length. Conversely, if you plan on performing on a table, the puppet needs to stand on that table to get the right length.
Next Post will discuss the leg strings.